Stuntman Ray Baumann is accustomed to vehicles that soar through the air, vaulting over rows of cars. But the Australian's latest ride makes its bones on the ground. It's the Monster Motorbike from Hell, a 10-foot-tall, 15-ton beast that drags vans around racetracks and flattens sedans as if they were soda cans.
Baumann knew he'd need big tires to stomp cars, so he bought a pair of old three-ton wheels from a Caterpillar front-end loader. To power them, he used a six-cylinder diesel engine and gearbox ripped out of a tractor-trailer. Anticipating that balance would be a concern, he oversaw the construction of an inch-thick, 1.3-ton sump guard, a heavy metal plate that sits beneath the frame just five inches off the ground and keeps the vehicle's weight low to the ground. He then attached the seat and frame from an old Honda motorbike to give himself a comfy perch. And he covered the engine's innards with plates made of aKevlar-like material to protect them in collisions. "You could ram a car into the side, and you wouldn't penetrate it," he says.
The bike, which Baumann hopes to take around the world smashing cars at shows, has become more than a piece of machinery to him. "She's beautiful," he says. "She demands respect, and she gets it."
How It Works
Cost: $230,000 | Time: 3 years
The bike's top speed is only 25 mph, but given that it's 15 tons, Baumann says, at that pace "it's certainly going to hurt something."
His seat is attached to a custom-built pneumatic arm. Baumann rigged the air-pressure system that runs the pneumatic brakes so it controls the arm as well. Adjusting the air changes how rigid or bouncy his ride will be.
The bike turns using an articulated steering system, in which hydraulic cylinders change the alignment angle of the front wheel. It can't corner quite like its smaller brethren, but Baumann says the bike's low center of mass and huge tires keep it relatively steady.
See more shots of the monster in action here.